Students are voicing their concerns over school security with state leaders.
Students say they should not be afraid to go to school. Now, they’re talking with state leaders about ways to improve security.
Pennsylvania’s School Safety Task Force is touring the state hearing concerns of students, parents, and faculty. Governor Tom Wolf and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale sent representatives to Erie High School Wednesday.
Director of Pennsylvania Homeland Security Marcus Brown says, “We can listen to students who are saying peer mentoring will help, and if we can listen to public health officials and nurses who will say that ‘hey, we need to have closer interaction with the students and look at trigger signs that they’re seeing in students, so that prevention can really be what our goal is before one of these tragedies happen.'”
Other issues involve determining additional funding needs for safety personnel and security equipment. But, members of the task force say most people they’ve talked to are not comfortable with teachers carrying firearms. Erie High School Junior Erin Flemming feels the same. “We do not want teachers to be armed in our schools. It creates an air of tension that we don’t want.”
So, what is an alternative? Erin says, “Issues that I shared were issues in funding because we talked about creating mental health awareness and mental health support systems and yet we can’t do that if we’re not funded properly.”
However, State Education Secretary Pedro Rivera says everyone seems to agree on preventative measures. “If we can look at those fundamental issues, those foundational issues; we can help to improve the environment in schools.”
And, as Erin waits for ideas to be implemented, she says the meeting is sign of progress. “It feels very good that we finally have a voice and that we can finally speak our minds on the issues that we face on a daily basis.”
The last tour stop is in Pittsburgh in two weeks. The offices of the governor and auditor general will then discuss the results.
The plan is to have a finalized report available by the beginning of July.